Polaroid to open Fotobar retail stores to help consumers print their smartphone photos


posted Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 3:06 PM EDT


So much for the demise of brick-and-mortar photo print shops. Polaroid plans to launch 10 brand new retail stores in 2013 that will be dedicated to helping consumers print their digital images from smartphones and other devices.

The company will open the first such retail location, called Polaroid Fotobar, in February 2013 in Delray Beach, Fla.

In a press release issued in conjunction with the fast approaching Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, Polaroid described the new stores as "cool, hip, experiential" locations. An image of the Delray Beach store can be seen above right.

“There are currently around 1.5 billion pictures taken every single day, and that number continues to grow in tandem with the popularity and quality of camera phones,” said Warren Struhl, founder and CEO of Fotobar, LLC. “Unfortunately, even the very best of those pictures rarely ever escape the camera phone with which they were taken to be put on display around our homes and offices. Why? Because turning those pictures into something tangible, creative and permanent is neither easy nor fun. Polaroid Fotobar stores are going to change all of that.”

The 2,000-square-foot Delray Beach store has been in design and development for the past 12 months. Other Polaroid Fotobar stores are slated to open in New York, Las Vegas and Boston this year.

Here's how Polaroid describes the concept behind the new stores in the press release.

"A patent-pending proprietary technology will allow in-store customers to select their favorite pictures on their camera phones and wirelessly transmit them to one of the store’s bar-top workstations for quick and hassle-free ordering within seconds. This platform also allows customers to locate their favorite photos and instantly upload them from popular social platforms including Facebook, Instagram, Picasa and several others. Uploaded photos can be enhanced on the bar-top workstations using photo-effect technologies such as contrast, red-eye correction, brightness and filters showing users the outcome as they work.

Once the images are uploaded, customers will be able to choose from a wide variety of materials, substrates and framing options for their individual works of art – all of which are handcrafted and shipped worldwide to the consumer in just a few days. Images can be framed, matted, and/or printed directly onto a variety of unique substrates including canvas, metal, acrylic, wood and bamboo. The ability to see, touch and feel examples of artworks produced using all of these unique materials is a critical aspect of the customer experience. As such, each Polaroid Fotobar store will be a gallery of its own, with creative, museum-quality pieces on display all around.

The stores will also be staffed by experienced 'Phototenders', each of whom will be a passionate photo enthusiast trained to help guide customers through the process from start to finish. The Delray Beach location will also feature a “The Studio” multi-purpose room that will host photo classes, private parties and include a studio location for portrait photos. Polaroid Fotobar store creators envision the stores becoming a recreational and entertainment destination in addition to a place to shop."

Polaroid also recently confirmed plans to Imaging Resource that the company would introduce a new interchangeable lens camera that runs the Android operating system at CES 2013. More details about that camera will be unveiled at CES.